German Politicians Call Harsh Israeli Welcome Unacceptable | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 18.04.2008
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German Politicians Call Harsh Israeli Welcome Unacceptable

A group of German politicians cut their visit to the West Bank short due to threats from Jewish settlers. Israel should curb the fanaticism of Jewish settlers, said the delegation.

Gate in Hebron diving the Israeli and Palestinian areas

The 800 Israelis living in Hebron are under military protection

The German delegation reacted hesitantly to an apology issued by officials from the Jewish settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday, April 17.

Jerzy Montag, a parliamentarian for the Greens who had been in Hebron the previous day with six other representatives from a German judicial committee, called the incident "completely unacceptable."

The committee members had said that Israeli security forces were unwilling to intervene when Hebron residents began hurling insults and threats at them and that their visit could not be continued.

"It was certainly just a few of the residents who hindered our visit," the parliamentarians said in a joint statement issued Thursday.

Germans blamed for not seeking dialogue

Jerzy Montag

Jerzy Montag said threats were directed at the German delegation

David Wilder, spokesman for the Jewish community, said the people's resentment was not directed at the German politicians but at their Israeli guides, who were allegedly biased against the Jewish settlers.

Montag disagreed, however, saying the insults and threats were indeed directed at the German delegation.

Wilder also accused the visitors of not seeking to engage in dialogue with the Jewish community in Hebron. The 800-member community lives under military protection amidst more than 100,000 Palestinians.

"Many of us lost German roots and family members during the Holocaust," said Wilder. "When Germans come to Hebron, they should at least meet with members of the community."

Montag called this a "grotesque twisting of the truth." He said he was willing to talk with the settlers, but not after being insulted and threatened.

In their statement, the judicial committee appealed to the Israeli authorities "to curb the fanaticism of the Jewish settlers."

The Israeli ambassador in Berlin said he's sorry about the incident and will apologize to the legislators, the Associated Press reported.

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